Genetic Risk Education Services

Genetic Services Video

Patient Story

Hear the emotional, personal story of this Ames mom who decided to get genetic testing after her mother, grandmother and sister all had cancer.

Read Sarah's story.

Genetic risk education is playing an increasingly important role in preventative cancer treatment, especially among people with a potential genetic predisposition to cancer. The Cancer Resource Center at Mary Greeley Medical Center offers genetic risk education to assess inherited risk for certain cancers, including breast, ovarian, endometrial, colorectal and melanoma.

A genetic test analyzes your DNA, looking for gene changes and number, arrangement, and characteristics of chromosomes. It can help determine increased risk for certain diseases, including inherited conditions you may pass along to a child, or those that affect your future well-being. There are different types of genetic testing. Tests are typically performed using samples of blood, saliva, or body tissues.

Why genetic testing?

Most cancer occurs by chance, however in some families there are more incidents of cancer than your would expect by chance alone.

Genetic information can help identify people who have an increased risk of cancer. Family history is often the first step in identifying an inherited cancer risk. For an increasing number of diseases, DNA-based testing can be used to identify a specific mutation as the cause of inherited risk and to determine whether family members have inherited the disease-related mutation.

It is estimated that 5 to 10 percent of cancer diagnoses are related to heredity. Genes come in pairs: one set of genes is passed down (or inherited) from your mother and the other set from your father. Some genes do not function properly because there is a mutation or alteration. Some alterations can increase your risk for certain illnesses, including cancer.

In families that have experienced cancer, it is important to determine whether the disease is related to an inherited gene mutation. The risk of developing cancer may be significantly reduced by careful medical management of identified high-risk patients. This information allows the physician to recommend appropriate intervention and prevents the unnecessary use of extensive risk reduction measures.

Genetic Counseling and Testing Services

The William R. Bliss Cancer Center offers genetic risk education services through the Cancer Resource Center, which provides the services of a Genetic Risk Educator who specializes in identified genetic cancer conditions. The Genetic Risk Educator works with McFarland Clinic physicians to identify individuals at high risk for hereditary cancers. The Bliss Cancer Center offers genetic risk education for high-risk individuals.

A person with a personal or family history of any the following conditions may want to investigate their personal risk for hereditary cancer:

  • Breast cancer (prior to age 50)
  • Ovarian cancer at any age
  • Endometrial cancer (prior to age 50) and associated cancers
  • Colorectal cancer (prior to age 50)
  • Colorectal adenomas (>20 cumulative polyps)
  • Melanoma (multiple primary sites)
  • Pancreatic cancer associated with other high risk cancers in the family

Contact Us

For more information, visit with your health care provider or contact the Cancer Resource Center at 515-956-6440 or 866-972-5477.

Support from the Mary Greeley Medical Center Foundation covers costs related to genetic education services at the William R. Bliss Cancer Center. Genetic testing is usually covered by health insurance.

The William R. Bliss Cancer Center places the utmost importance on client’s privacy and confidentiality throughout the genetic testing process.

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